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tv   U.S. Senate U.S. Senate  CSPAN  March 24, 2020 1:59pm-6:00pm EDT

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because the i.r.s. will be presenting these checks quickly to be able to have a little cushion. so this bill has all that. this bill is there to help people. this bill is there to ensure the doors can stay open in these businesses and people can stay employed to the extent possible. let's not block it anymore. people said there's not enough money in here and that's really what democrats want is to put more money in the bill. there is already $75 billion straight to hospitals. then i would argue at least another $40 billion going to hospitals directly or indirectly through medicare reimbursements. through other changes in law that help. that used to be a lot of money around here. my point is if that's not enough, in a few weeks congress will be back, we can look at this. we are willing to fine-tune this. but don't block the bill today because it's not enough money for whatever you think your needs are. we have don't know what the needs are, let's be honest.
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we do know this is an unprecedented amount of money. congress has never passed a rescue package like this before before, $1.5 trillion on top of about $200 billion that was in the legislation that passed only a couple of weeks ago on top of the $8.3 billion that was in the first one. this -- this is phase three. and then, finally, number three, this legislation does provide the help to the health care system, quickly, the public health care system to be able to provide the protective gear that's needed for health care workers, the additional ventilators needed in our hospitals. the antiviral medication that can help when someone tests positive to know there's going to be a way to minimize to reduce the effects of this virus, the infection. and really significantly to not
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only -- lab corps said they can do 300,000 tests a week. we need to use the cotton swab to get them the swabs. there needs to be a process to get them. now we're starting to come online, this funding legislation will help them to quickly move so they can have the information to measure whether we're succeeding or not. and then as we begin to measure our success to be able to get people back to work, to be able to get the economy back on track, to be sure that people are shopping. the consumer economy is so important. this can all happen, but this legislation is critical to make it happen, to provide the rescue to help people whether this storm and to be sure at the other end of this we come out strong. and we will. we will. it requires us working together today, right now to come out from behind these doors, stop
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the negotiating to add more here and there and just say, this is a bipartisan product. nothing is perfect around here, but if you make perfect the enemy of the good, you're going to hurt more people, more small businesses will shut, more people will be out on their own and there will be more and more people who will be infected with this virus who otherwise could have been saved. so, mr. president, i ask my colleagues, it's already been too long. let's pass this legislation today. let's begin the rescue package and begin to help the constituents who deserve it. i yield back.
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mr. lankford: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: eight days ago we started the process of trying to be abe to pull together this economic bill. eight days ago we've been in continuous session every day since then. it was our belief that we would vote on this bill two days ago on sunday. the negotiations have gone on for this ten tire eight-day -- entire eight-daytime period, republicans and democrats working together, republican chairman, democratic ranking members, sharing ideas. eight days ago senator schumer presented a list ten pages long of ideas and priorities that democrats wanted to be able to include in the economic relief package. multiple of those areas are included in this package, in
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this compiled package that was all trying to head to vote on it on sunday, and then sunday happened that it was we're close. that wasn't the answer we're voting on it. it was suddenly the negotiations are, we're close and a whole new set of priorities suddenly appeared from our senate democratic colleagues that said we want a few more things we want to do and a few more things that we want to evaluate. we're close is all we heard. we thought we were done. for the sake of the american people we need to be done. we have folks at home across the entire country that are trying to figure out if they can get a loan, if they can keep their business going, if they can pay their employees. they have no income coming and all that is coming out of this body is we're close and we have a few more things that we want
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to discuss. here is a stamp many of the -- sample of the calls that i got yesterday. a lady from southwest oklahoma called yesterday literally in tears saying that she has a small business and there's little to no business going on right now with no cash flow and she doesn't know about she and her husband's retirement and she doesn't know why the bill didn't pass yesterday. and all we can say to her was, we don't know either because it was suddenly a new set of issues that seemed to be all day long sunday, monday, and now we're deep into tuesday and we still can't get a set of answers. painfully enough, i caught one of my senate colleagues on the democratic side and just asked, what is the problem? what is the holdup? their answer was, we're compiling our list from everyone right now to try to get down to what our priorities are. this was yesterday -- monday.
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we thought we would be done on sunday and all i could say back to them was, you're compiling your list? you still don't even know what all you want to be able to include in this bill and we're just stalling and waiting until we can figure out what to do. we've been done and now we're stuck waiting for the other side to say, i'm thinking of a few more things we want to include. i had a lady from southern oklahoma who called me because the day care center where her daughter works is closed down. doesn't know what's going to happen and wanted to know, she's heard about this possibility of a check being sent out to every american. that would sure be helpful right now and wanted to know when that was coming. all i could say was, i don't know. we're waiting on our democratic colleagues to finish compiling their list of the other things they want to add into this bill
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so we can even discuss it. all i can say is i keep hearing we're at the two- -- 2-yard line or we're this close, but we never seem to get past the 2-yard line. it's always, we're close. folks at home don't need we're close. they need this done. so let me just say real quick what's in this bill and why it's so important to us. additional money for testing, additional money for work on vaccines, additional money on trying to be go through treatments, ventilators, literally billions of dollars that go to hospitals and clinics and nursing homes and senior centers many one section of the bill has $75 billion, another section of the bill has $40 billion just for hospitals and for health care. the hospitals are all telling us the same thing, we need help and we need help right now. and i would say back to them, would love to except we seem to be parked on the 2-yard line
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while other folks are saying, we're close. we're still thinking of a few other things we want to get in. there's an immediate check that's to go out to every american to be able to provide some support for utilities and the basic things because so many are unemployed. those folks who are calling is, all i can say is i don't know. all i know is we're close because the other side wants to include things they are thinking about on the list. already in the bill is $250 million for unemployment insurance with an increase on the amount that would come on each check. would love to get that started except we're on the 2-yard line and we can't seem to get past that because the other side is still making a list of the other things they want to include in the bill. so we can't get help to hospitals, we can't get immediate support checks out the door, we can't get additional unemployment insurance going because they were thinking about
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a few other things they want to add into the bill. already in the bill is help for small businesses, helping people retain their full salary if they work at a small business that is a business of 500 or less so that they can stay connected to their employer so when we get through this virus they actually have a job and they can continue their same salary. that's an immediate offer. it's not like the one that passed last week that small businesses are expected to pay for the coverage out of money they don't have and some day the federal government will figure out a process to reimburse them. this is totally different. this is an immediate up front infusion into small businesses so they don't have to come up with the cash. it's come up for them and for them to be able to help their employees that helps their employees from having to go into unemployment insurance and helps the recovery -- the economy recover faster because they are able to come back to it.
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i would love to them them, go to your bank right now, your loan is ready except i can't because the other side is thinking of more things they want to add into this bill. while small businesses can't make it through the week because of their cash flow because they've been forcibly closed, the other side's thinking about a few more things that they want to add in. there's help in this for nonprofits that are doing amazing work all over my state and they probably are in states all over the country right now. nonprofits are out there that i talked to recently, homeless shelters but they are at max capacity, they are not allowing additional residences -- residents, the ymca is doing remarkable work. the free community clinic has had to close in some of my communities just because of covid-19 and so they are trying to find ways to help out in other ways. the hope center that's in woodward is doing a
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drive-through food distribution right now instead of having people come in and so they are getting food to them. we've got some of the youth and family service facilities that are doing amazing work right now but they cannot make payroll right now. they are needing some help. well, guess what, there's help in this bill for those nonprofits to be able to keep their payroll going and to be able to keep going because we desperately need those nonprofits to still be table toll provide that help in those communities. i would love to tell those nonprofits, help is on the way but all i can tell them is, we're on the 2-yard line waiting for the other side to determine a few more things that they still want to put into the bill. so it's ready, maybe. a lot of large business that's employ a lot of people in my state -- businesses that's ploy a lot of people in my state are not asking for grants, though they would love to get those,
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obviously. they are asking for capital. they are asking for access to loans. they are asking for the opportunity to take out a loan and be able to make a payment. that's in this bill. it's not a bailout for big companies in this bifl. this bill -- bill. this bill provides an opportunity for medium and large companies to get access to credit so they can get a loan to carry their company through it. i would love to tell them you can go take out that loan, but i can't because the other side is still thinking about a few other things that they want to do. and we're waiting. time is important right you in. -- right now. and while one of my colleagues made a public statement yesterday saying this is a $2 trillion bill, we should really get it right. oh, i agree, but this doesn't seem to be a matter of making sure the text is correct. all that i've heard for the last 48 hours is, there are a few
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more things we're thinking about that we want to be table to get into the bill. yesterday it was solar energy panels and solar credits, which i don't know how it connection with covid-19. it was forcing airlines to be carbon neutral by 2025. it was union representatives on corporate boards. it was limiting their ability for corporations to be able to have any kind of access to doing stock buybacks for the next ten years. all of those things may be fine to debate, why in the world are we holding up small businesses and holding up checks to individuals and cutting off support for nonprofits because we're thinking about a few things like solar panels and carbon neutral foot prints for airlines? why don't we get this done?
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because the time is important and people at home that have real lives and real families and a small business have no income coming in right now. they have no cash flow and they are trying to pay their employees and figure out what's going to happen next while the other side is think ising about something else -- thinking about something else they might want to add to this this bill. time for thinking through the details but in our office it's a really difficult thing to continue to answer the phone and hear people say i don't know how we stay open any longer. i'll tell you what. why don't you answer this call for me while you're thinking about what else you might want to add to the bill. a hotel owner in my state that just closed their doors while you're thinking about what you want to do next. i'm asking the other side, the
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bill already has these elements in it. and while i'm confident people will step out of negotiations at some point and say we miraculously saved the bill because we changed five lines in it and we added additional dollars into this account or this account was too low. we didn't give $75 billion to hospitals. we gave a hundred billion to hospitals. look, we fixed it and we didn't give $10 billion to cities of what's in there, we gave $15 billion so we saved it. but while you're arguing about adding a few more dollars to these different things, in the meantime small businesses and people across the country are saying can i get the first dollar while you're arguing about the 15 billiont billionth? can i get some help now?
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time is important. let's stop pretending it's not. it may not be to some folks in this room. it is to the four million folks in my state. we were ready to sunday with this bill and thought we were voting on it to finish it. now 48 hours later the our side is still thinking about something they might want to add dinto this. let's vote. with that i yield the floor.
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ms. mcsally: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. ms. mcsally: madam president, we are at war and unlike the enemies i fought against in uniform, this enemy is invisib invisible. but it's just as deadly. earlier today the world health organization cautioned that the u.s. could be the next epicenter of this coronavirus pandemic. the surgeon general sounded the alarm that things will guess drastically worse this week. economists are warning of a prolonged economic downturn that will devastate the country financially in ways unseen since the great depression. as of right now more than 600 americans have died from the coronavirus. in arizona our governor announced this morning that the death toll from the outbreak is up to five. in the past four days we've seen more than a 200% increase in the
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number of cases in my state. it's going to go up. these aren't just numbers. they're people. our hearts and our prayers are with the grieving families who lost their loved ones, and those fighting for their lives right now. the nation has embarked on a massive effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, buy time, and ensure our health care system doesn't get overwhelmed. these aggressive steps will save lives, but this path creates another calamity of massive economic hardship unlike anything we've experienced. we're telling people to stay home and not work. the financial devastation is wide and deep. arizonans are stepping up to do their part to save the vulnerable, but working people deserve relief.
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and their needs are urgent. i was home in arizona a week ago sunday and i saw a neighbor, a single mom with three kids. she owns a food truck and told me her income just went to zero with all events canceled. what am i supposed to do? she asked me with her son by her side at the grocery store. i told her i was heading back to d.c. to pass legislation to get her cash fast, for her rent and food, plus additional support for her small business. she was scared. i can't imagine the fear that must be gripping all arizona parents just like her who must provide for their families in the face of this open ended economic lockdown. that same day i ordered takeout at my favorite local restaurant. there was hardly anyone there
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when it's usually packed. and this was before the governor's orders to shut down eating and dining rooms. this is a family-owned small restaurant where they poured their savings, their hearts, and their lives into building this local success story. i asked how they were coping and they said they were deeply concerned. what are we supposed to do, they asked. i told them to hang in there and that relief was on the way. more fear in the eyes of people whose only sin is to have worked hard and played by the rules in pursuit of their american dream. i walked to the gate at the airport terminal where i usually hug a woman who shines shoes on monday morning. we kept our distance but i asked how the virus impacted her. she said she only hd one -- only had one client that day and
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things were grinding to a halt. what am i supposed to do, i heard again. i took her phone number and i told her we leaf was on -- her relief was on the way soon. this morning she's waking up to no relief bill and a new story that airlines have plans to shut down altogether. it's a nightmare with no end in sight for so many like her. on the plane back to washington, d.c., i texted the woman who grooms my dog boomer to ask how the virus was impacting her business. she told me it was slowing down but that she wasn't feeling well. i urged her to go home immediately and stay away from people. she said she couldn't because she had to pay her bills. what is she supposed to do? i pleaded with her on text to go home and said relief was on the
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way soon. later that day i heard from a doctor who asked me to send a message of encouragement to the health care workers serving on the front lines of the v.a. we're going to need it, he texted. it's coming. he shared with me their concerns about their patients and families. we want to do the best we can against this unknown enemy in darkness, he said. he went on to share that he was most impressed by the nurses and the support staff, like the house keepers who do their jobs in a petri dish, still smiling but terrified inside. i put a short video together to thank these heroes, and i told him that relief was on the way soon. over the past eight days i've heard countless stories similar to these from arizonans across
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the state. the situation is dire and it is urgent. these are real people who are suffering real harm from this pandemic. relief must be delivered post haste, bold and swift. time and time and time again every senator in this chamber has promised a constituent relief is on the way soon. but the actions by some members in this chamber have resulted in broken promises to the american people by blocking advancement of this urgent relief package that was drafted by senators of both parties, democratic leadership has ushered in one of the saddest chapters in american history. though i've only been in the senate for a little over a year, i can say it has lived up so far to its reputation as a place where nothing happens fast.
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but with the sense of urgency, republicans and democrats came together and they've been working around the clock to build this comprehensive relief package. we worked on this with the goal of keeping employees connected to employers to the mass extent possible. and we strengthened unemployment benefits for those laid off. working arizonans need cash now toll pay rent and buy food. small businesses need to be rescued from closing forever. our economy needs to be stopped from collapsing, and our hospitals need resources now to meet the coming tsunami. if passed on sunday, this package would send $3,400 to cash to every family of four in arizona making $150,000 a year
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or less. it will give small businesses money they don't have to pay back to keep their employees on the payroll and pay other overhead costs like rent. those businesses are in danger of closing down in the next week or so. and they won't be around to provide jobs when the virus is defeated. we must urgently, urgently act to keep them afloat. the legislation also allows larger employers who provide jobs to people in each of our states to take out loans to keep people on the payroll as their revenues plummet. take petsmart and best western hotels, both headquartered in arizona. these businesses and others like them provide jobs for our neighbors and those are at risk, too. for our frontline warriors in
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this pandemic fight, our initial bipartisan framework provides $75 billion to hospitals, more than $1 billion to indian health services, $20 billion for veterans health services, $11 billion to develop treatments and vaccines, and $1.7 billion for the strategic national stockpile for essential equipment, like masks, test kits, and ventilators. if you want to plus it up, we could have done it sunday afternoon. we could have had that conversation and swiftly passed this bill. we also significantly increased unemployment benefits. currently in arizona, unemployment is $250 a week. we increase that to $850 while expanding eligibility for those who are self-employed, independent contractors, part part-time workers and gig economy workers like uber and lyft drivers. all of that, that's what the democrats blocked on sunday and
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then again on monday. and for what? so they could throw money at liberal pet projects that have absolutely nothing to do with treating the health and economic fallouts of the coronavirus, nothing whatsoever. relief was on the way. it was all but a done deal. and then nancy pelosi landed in d.c. and she and chuck schumer decided to blow it all up for their unrelated ideological wish list. people are dying. people are running out of money. and they're looking for us to provide strong relief now. but that doesn't seem to matter to them. we said relief was on the way. and now it isn't. i was presiding over this
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chamber on sunday night after the first failed vote when chuck schumer walted in that door -- walzed in that door and objected to opening the senate up early on monday instead forcing us to wait until noon. he gave a theatrical speech from over there filled with flat out lies saying that we had set an artificial deadline to pass this bill, an artificial deadline for who? the following day was the deadliest day in the united states' fight against covid-19 with more than a hundred new deaths reported and people in arizona are losing their jobs every single day. while the senator from new york may not worry about where his next meal is coming from, the people i talk to every day in arizona do.
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in fact, they're more than worried. they're afraid. peo -- people are dying and the democrat leaders think it is an taunt to score political points and grab -- an opportunity to score political points and grab power? it is despicable, it's infuriating, it's immoral, and it must stop. this is an unprecedented challenge for our country, but i'm confident we will prevail. just like other severe crises in our history, this pandemic is bringing out the best of america and the best of arizona. i am inspired every day by stories of arizonans who are stepping up to serve others and putting their own concerns and fears aside. during this crisis, our country is not divided. our states are not divided. our communities are not divided. instead, arizonans are being
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selfless and serving others. young people are delivering groceries to the elderly. healthy people are volunteering at food banks and donating blood. neighborsare pitching in to provide child care for essential health care workers. faith communities are delivering care packages to the vulnerable and first responders. they are rising to the occasion because that is what we do. so here in the senate, what are we supposed to do? follow their example. rise to the occasion. put selfish motives aside. stop with the opportunism. stop with the ideological wish list and start voting yes immediately to get relief to americans and arizonans now. i yield the floor.
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mr. blunt: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: madam president, i'm tempted to talk about all of the problems we've had getting to this point with this legislati legislation, but i'm wondering if now is not the time to continue talking about why we need to get this done. we've heard a lot about what's wrong and who's right and who's taking advantage of the moment. but this is a moment that we need to do something. this is truly an emergency piece of legislation that deals with a set of circumstances that nobody has ever seen before in our country where we have a virus that people are reacting to in a way that both encourages them
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and in some cases requires them to withdraw from the normal economic activity of the country. and this is different than 9/11 where in 9/11 the american people said we're going to show those terrorists that they can't slow us down and in many cases got out even more aggressively into the economy than they were before. in 2008 and 2009 we clearly had a huge economic problem, but that economic problem didn't get dramatically changed by people's unwillingness to participate. there was a concern about participating. now we've got to fundamentally -- we've got a fundamentally very strong economy that people have been asked to withdraw from or chosen to withdraw from or advised to withdraw from. and we need to figure out what to do about that both on the health care side and on the economic side. you know, our role here is
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limited. we can't legislate an end to coronavirus 19. if we could, we would. we can't legislate exactly how people will behave, and if we could, we probably shouldn't. we can't tell people you have to wash your hands. we can talk a lot about washing hands, but there's -- legislatively there are a lot of limits here, but there are some things we can do and now is the time to do the things we can do. how do we get the most help to the most people in the quickest way, and i hope we can come together today in the next few hours and decide that the moment is more important than everybody winning everything they'd like to win. this is not a moment when you've got to make the most of it because it won't come around again. because frankly, my view is,
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madam president, it's going to come around pretty quickly. i'd say the minute we're done with phase three, we'll start talking about phase four because all of us know that phase three can't have included everything that needs to be included, can't have looked at some of the detail that will become only more available and obvious after we get into phase three. but what do we have to do right now? first of all, we have to create a way that people see immediate cash assistance coming. people that have expenses that they didn't have before, either health care expenses they didn't have before or child care expenses they didn't have before or other kinds of expenses. in many cases we're going to more and more see people that have either new or current expenses and they don't have the income they had before. now, under this bill a typical
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middle-class family of four would get somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 to $4,000 sometime in the early days of april. we'll immediately begin to talk about whether or not that needs to be repeated again as the summer progresses, but that's not the point right now. the point is what happens two and three weeks from now. this bill will and should provide emergency funds for food and nutrition programs. it will create a temporary pandemic unemployment assistance program to give assistance to workers who are noarme -- normally wouldn't be eligible for until employment yet or eligible at a rate that would sustain the expenses of their family. this would include an additional $600 a week for every recipient of unemployment for the next three weeks. by the time we're done, it might
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be longer than three weeks, but the goal here is to get money into the hands of families and more importantly, let them know that that money is on the way. we need to help small business businesses. small businesses who are -- in many cases being told they have to close their business. restaurant, other retail businesses have been told by governors in several states, you have to close your business. you can't be in that business. if you're in the restaurant business, you might still be open to have a business but it's no longer the business you used to have where people come in and sit down and order or come in and order and then sit down, where the staffing is different, where people are going on the unemployment lines and we would -- the unemployment rolls. and part of the goal of this legislation is to see that that doesn't happen, to make loans available to small business
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people, and one of the possible ways to satisfy that loan is just to keep your employees in place as part of your employee structure for as long as you can. in missouri we have 532,000 small businesses. more than 99% of our businesses in missouri would qualify to meet that small business standard. now, it's difficult enough to run a small business in the best of times, but these circumstances certainly don't allow us to look at these as the best of times. this legislation would provide money to be sure that workers kept those jobs. it's easier to bring somebody back to work than it is to hire somebody back to work. it's easier if we can keep those employees and others in place. in fact, at the big business level, i think one of the criteria for some of the
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potential programs would be that you have to keep your employees in place through maybe in case of airlines, i hear it could be as long as sometime in september. and hopefully by september that business has recovered to the point that it's not a hardship to keep those businesses in place. but starting with small businesses, looking at all businesses, using loans to cover payroll costs, using loans to cover interest on your mortgage if you're a small business person or rent or utilities, using those loans in a way that clearly just do the things that you would do if you had your normal level of cash flow. that is not there now. every day we wait makes it harder for a small business or any business who's trying to decide can i keep these people on the payroll any longer or is the only thing i have a choice
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to do, to put them on the unemployment roll? and every day we wait, more businesses are making that decision. more small businesses -- remember, no income coming in. all your money is going out. you have nothing but a vague promise that the congress is trying to do something about this. people getting let go every single day. there are more people out of work today than were out of work on monday morning. there will be more people out of work tomorrow than there are today. we can have a positive impact on that if we'll just act in a way that helps them keep their doors open when there's any business to be had, to keep their people on the payroll, the people that work for them on the payroll. and by the way, with small business, it's usually not just the people that work for you in that sense. it's the people that work with you. the small business person that in many cases is doing every
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single job in the business at some point along with somebody else. but what we can do to keep the door open, to keep people on the payroll, to have them ready to bounce back the minute that the immediate crisis is over. and then we need to do things in this bill that support health care workers and health care providers. this bill would make sure i think in any form it is taking at this moment, certainly the health care part that i've worked on as the chairman of that subcommittee, that testing for coronavirus is going to be paid for. it's going to be paid for by medicare. it's going to be paid for by medicaid. it's going to be paid for by private insurance. the hospitals get relief in terms of the payments they're supposed to make, the regulatory relief that they need to have as they're trying to adapt into a new situation. hospitals getting more flexibility to do more
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telehealth services. we already put that bill in bill number two. we're trying to further refine it here in this bill, bill number three. the one thing that particularly has resonance in this moment is telehealth. if you're telling people don't go to the hospital unless your doctor tells you you have to go to the hospital, don't go to the emergency as your first place to go, find a doctor to talk to. don't even go to the doctor, we're telling people. find a doctor to talk to. telehealth allows you to not only talk to a doctor, but that doctor looking at you and you looking at them as you talk to each other. we need to be sure that doctors have what we're all calling the personal protective equipment, the p.p.e.'s, a term six months ago i'm not sure i would have recognized. maybe not six weeks ago but it's very much part of this discussion. as a matter of fact, it's one of the reasons that hospitals are
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being told not to do elective surgery. elective surgery is by definition elective which means you don't have to have it at that moment. but if people had plenty of equipment, there would be no reason that those surgeries weren't happening. but those surgeries aren't happening to be sure you've got the protective equipment you need when the coronavirus hits your community. we need to figure out how to cut down the need for that equipment by expanding, again, telehealth, by not encouraging people to take a test that don't need to take a test because every one of those tests requires a pair of gloves, a unique mask, maybe with some frequent si different protective equipment. we're trying to figure out how to do all of that. we're adding funds like for the national institutes for health
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to -- to move toward both therapeutics and vaccines as quickly as we can. therapeutics probably happen more quickly than vaccines but looking for ways to do that and ways to encourage early production. community health centers matter. certified community behavioral health centers matter. we're looking in this bill how we extend the legislation that allows those entities to exist. that all goes out of law. we've reached the end of the authorized period in may. no reason to have that happen in may. this bill should take those health care extension programs longer than the 22nd of may and i believe it will. there are a lot of competing interests here we have to
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balance. by the time we vote on a bill, this will not be a bill that any person who votes on it thinks everything in it is exactly they'd like to have it there. don't get to legislate that way. i'm just hoping that there's not so much in it that i don't like that it creates a bigger problem than i want to have. because i want to vote for this bill. i want to get it done. i want to get it out there for people to see. it's harder for me to do that if it includes a lot of extraneous things that clearly have nothing to do with this health care emergency. and i hope that we don't have to make that decision. i hope we get focused on the task. you know, everybody, madam president, that you and i and senator enzi sitting here beside me i talked to, everybody has a pretty good case that calls in and talks about how this is affecting them. charities call in and say we just had to cancel our one big fund raising event of the year.
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charities call in and say our volunteers aren't showing up. the for-profit people are impacted. the not-for-profit groups are impacted. travel is impacted. agriculture is impacted. we're about to get to the season of the year where people have community festivals and community fairs. the missouri state fair, the carnivals that occur in our state. the six to ten-month travel destinations like silver dollar city or six flags or worlds of fun. if you lose part of that season, that season is lost and you're not going to get that may or that june or that april back. you're not going to be able to tack it on by saying we'll just be open in january to make up for the people that would have been at our theme park in june, that's not going to happen.
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we're going to have the ozark empire fair sometime this year. i noticed the olympics in tokyo, they just announced they were going to postpone by one year. that year -- you never get that year back. you never get that fair back. you never get that county fair, that agricultural opportunity to look at agriculture and horticulture and local industry back once it's gone whether it's the midway operations or the part-time workers that make those things work, all those things are getting away from us, and we've got to begin to look and i think we'll be able to do that more in part four than in part three. how do we go back in and make sure as much as possible we've protected these businesses and these not-for-profits so that a
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year from now they are still around? how do you miss all or part of this year's activity and still be there next year? so we've got our work cut out for us. it won't end with the bill we're working on right now. so if anybody out there, my colleagues, is waiting for this bill to solve every problem that we need to solve, we will wait too long. just like we were able to move forward with part one and get money out there quickly for the health care providers, the researchers at the federal level, part two did more of that at the state and local level as well as beginning to think about people staying at work. part three does all the things i just talked about and more, but there will be a part four but we've got to get this done. people are unemployed today that
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would not be unemployed if we would have done this work on monday. people will be unemployed tomorrow that would not have been unemployed if we would have finished -- if we finished this work today. let's get our business done. let's get started on finding out the gaps that still need to be filled. let's do what the american people expect us to do and treat an emergency like it's an emergency, not like it's an opportunity. and with that i would yield the floor. mr. enzi: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: thank you. today i come to the floor to talk about the plight of america's small businesses. to talk about the plight of after their owners and to talk about the plight of their employees. as a former small business owner
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myself, i'm here to plead their case and reiterate how important it is that congress helps them and helps them now. small businesses are an important part of our american economy that help our country and its inhabitants to thrive, and it employs millions of people. here's what congress has done so far in response to the coronavirus crisis. we had package number one. it was $8 billion. around here that used to be a big number, $8 billion for health care. and we did package two, and that beefed up the health care needs and other things. i should mention that that package was put together by the house without input from the senate. it was put together by democrats without republican input. we in the senate saw the crisis, and even though republicans saw
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things they did not take and things that were missing, the bill passed in one day without amendments. we held our nose and swallowed. we recognized the urgency of the situation. now a package has been put together through task groups with equal representation from both sides of the aisle and it's being decried as a republican bill. this package is to take care of the second wave of disaster, the disaster of unemployment, massive unemployment caused by government caution. government caution is saving lives but it's putting people out of work. the virus has closed businesses which in turn lay off employees. it has closed schools. it hags changed every aspect of our daily lives and it has left people isolated. it's put a strain on health care
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workers and first responders. it's done it in what was a wrong and growing economy. why isn't there more concern for the employees out of work? why haven't we already done at least the parts of this bill that give nongovernment employees some comfort and hope? the main reason is the government can't identify with the small business man. no one in congress has to be concerned about how to pay his or her employees. that's the first place government money goes, even if the government doesn't have any. government employees, our staffs know they have a job and they will be paid. employees in the private sector don't have any confidence in their next paycheck in this new turmoil. many have been laid off. they have lost their paycheck. they have lost their health benefits. the schools and day care have
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closed. their world's been upended. they went from a bright future to unemployed in a couple of weeks. congress can't even imagine their dilemma. congress is immune economically. a small business doesn't exist for the government, it exists in spite of the government. someone with a lot of guts, determination, and what they think is a good idea had the gumption to start a business. they take risks without guarantees. many folks, without any help from congress, launched new businesses to sell their products or services and were successful enough to hire employees. at that point, they built a business family. successful small businesses work in that way. they know their employees and share a sense of pride for helping to provide for them. they know the family of the
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employee. usually they work side by side with those employees. they share their joyce and their -- joys and their sorrows, but in contrast to government they have to sell something of value. they have to make a profit or they have no money to pay employees. none of them like to lay off employees, but we have built a backstop of unemployment so the employees can still get some money. however, the owner of the business doesn't have that backstop. the owner of the business would rather be employing his people. but here's the dilemma we have for our small businesses, and it's unprecedented. the government has effectively taken their customers away. government to protect people from the virus have virtually closed down everything that -- everything but grocery stores, hospitals and clinics. the government has considered curtailing medical services if
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they are not addressing the virus or some other life or death situation. but the real sector that's been hurt is the employees in the small business sector, through no fault of their own, nor any fault of the person managing the business. government has taken their jobs away. answers are available, and have been worked out by a group of equal number from both parties, but we continue to be stopped in our efforts. i sincerely hope this is not bringing -- this is not about bringing down the president or someone trying to gain something. i gave a speech last friday about the way to save employees of small businesses. the package was ready then. that employee retention package is part of what has been held up since sunday. yes, we stayed through the weekend to get a solution before the markets opened on monday, but it was voted down.
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in record time we accepted a democrat bill written in the house last week without any amendments. now a bipartisan product has been held up. for what? some of the demands have nothing to do with the virus. there are demands for climate change changes. the economic climate has changed and is changing daily and they want to wedge in some ideas they know would fail standing alone. i've always said the best legislation is step by step legislation, but we always try to be comprehensive. maybe that's so that it's incomprehensible and too big for anyone to understand or know. here's how the small business employee retention part works. businesses across america are shut down or considering shutting down. many businesses have no sales, no money, no money to pay employees or other bills that come due, every small business owner has that experience of
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sitting sphrait up in -- straight up in bed in the middle of the night and saying, payroll is coming, pay day is coming. do i have enough cash to pay my employees? that comes with a decrease in sales. but this time many businesses are faced with no business, no business and not through a fault of their own. so the only controllable variable is employees. they can lay off employees to cut costs. if employees get laid off, they can get unemployment, but don't have health care. most people in government can't appreciate this dilemma. it's happening in the business world. in fact, the lines at some unemployment offices are so long, they discourage filing and the rule about keeping safe distance, wow. in this instance the government has essentially shut down many businesses, eliminating their sales and eliminating their cash
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to pay employees. for small business their bank says, i'm sorry, i can't loan any money because you don't have any sales and you can't pay me back. the government doesn't have to file bankruptcy, but small businesses do. the owner probably has to also pay rent, heat, and ewe tilts to -- utilities to name a few extensions that they are not allowed to skip. but their main concern is employees. they need employees. they need trained employees. when they lay off their loyal, trusted employees, they can't be sure they can get them back later. so this bill has a solution, and i congratulate the people that worked on it. one of them has joined me here on the floor, senator shaheen, senator cardin worked on it. this bill has a solution. while congress continues to negotiate it, here's the direction it's headed. the federal government will loan the businesses to pay their employees provided they don't
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lay them off. the employees keep their job and their health insurance even if the business is closed down. when things come back to more normal, if the owner has been keeping all of his employees, that part of the money that they got is forgiven. they are back in business. they have skilled employees they had and business can continue to pay the employees. that part of the bill alone generally takes care of employees of any business with less than 500 employees. yes, even one employee, which would be many based in my home state of wyoming. in wyoming there are a lot of communities that do not even have 500 residents. we're a state made up of small towns, some of which have one or two businesses. and in my state hundreds are or could be laid off each day. provisions to stop that are an important part of the bill. another part of the bill helps
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those whose business is gone in cases in which the pay retention for employees doesn't work, the unemployment has been increased up to $600 a week in addition to the normal unemployment benefits. to keep things in tact during the transition, the bill provides direct payment to every taxpayer make being -- of $1,200 if making less than $75,000 or $2,500 if making $150,000. and $500 for each child. but it shouldn't take long for the employer retention part to kick in as all the structure is in place. any community bank, any lending institution can give a loan to a small business without having to check collateral or any of the other cumbersome steps to normally getting a loan and the lender is guaranteed by the
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federal government. loans to others, you've heard about some big businesses who have lost their customers in response to the virus. generally if they are over 500 employees, they are not eligible for the employer retention piece but there are loans quickly available. there are no grants for big companies, just loans. and the companies are prohibited from using the money to buy back stock and prohibited from pay increases or bonus to management. the loans are at market rate with no forgiveness. they will have to be paid back. this is a lifeline to keep jobs. there is money available to state and local governments, $186 billion for hospitals, another $75 billion for veterans, another $20 billion, another 11 billion for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, $4.5 billion more
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for the centers for disease control in addition to what was done before, $12 billion for k-12 education, $10 billion for airports, $20 billion for public transportation. these and other solutions have been held up by the democrats. every single democrat has voted against cloture so far. they say they need more time to negotiate. they promise an agreement is imminent. my colleagues across the aisle have used senate procedures to unnecessarily drag this out. let me tell you the senate process and how long it can take to get a final product. it can be necessary to get three clotures. that means a vote supported by at least 60 senators. anyone absent counts as a no vote. neither party has 60 members so the minority has great power. many votes from their side are necessary. anyone who is sick from the
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virus and cannot be there counts as a no vote. if the virus hits congress harder, it will be harder for us to even function. so we can't wait. but back to how cloture works and why it takes so long, bills can be delayed in the senate almost a week in the senate if even one person doesn't like it. that's what's happening now except it's a lot more than one person. a shell bill from the house has been put up to conform to a constitutional rule that spending bills have to originate in the house. what we have been voting on isn't even the real bill. it's a shell. a motion to proceed to the bill has to get unanimous consent or have cloture filed. if 60 senators vote for cloture, then there can be 30 hours of debate on whether we should take up the real issue to actually get to amend the bill
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takes another 60 votes voted to allow amendments and another 30 hours. unless everybody agrees. after amendments are finished or if there is a feeling we could be moving on without unanimous consent, there would be a final vote to close off debate. that would also take 60 votes. so the need to have leverage before the first cloture vote on the shell in order to negotiate just doesn't cut it with the first vote or the second vote in the expenditure of 30 hours between each vote. that's why we stayed around and voted on sunday so that we could get maybe the first 30 hours out of the way while negotiations went on and then get to the bill and then have amendments. my colleagues across the aisle are using this process to forward their agenda even for issues unrelated to this crisis. we are not doing climate change
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as part of this emergency bill. everything should have a direct connection to the coronavirus. rome is burning, and congress is fiddling. this bill should protect the health of our country's inhabitants and economy. protection for small businesses, their owners, and employers are vital and an important piece of our response. i yield the floor and implore everyone to vote for cloture.
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mrs. shaheen: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: madam president, i come to the floor today like so many of my colleagues during what is undoubtedly the worst crisis that i have seen in my lifetime. it reminds me of hearing from my parents and grandparents about what it was like in america during the depression and during world war ii. and this crisis in some ways is even worse because it's an enemy we can't see, the novel coronavirus or covid-19. not since the 1918 outbreak of the spanish influenza has a pandemic posed such an immense threat to the public health of our country. as of this morning more than 47,000 americans have been tested and they have tested positive for covid-19. we have actually tested more
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than that. that's the number who have tested positive. 593 americans have unfortunately died from this disease, and just yesterday health officials reported more than 100 americans lost their lives in a single day. i know that everyone in this chamber is thinking of those families and those people who have been lost due to this disease. sadly, no one's immune. everyone is affected, including in my home state of new hampshire. we've had more than 100 granite staters who have fallen ill from the coronavirus, and sadly, just in the last few days one person has died. my heart goes out to these families, to the family of the person that we've lost. this virus hasn't only threatened the public health of the nation but threatens our
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economy as well. millions of americans have been asked to stay in their homes. schools and businesses have been closed. and while we all understand that this is a necessary step to help curb the spread of the disease, it has taken a huge toll on our workers, on our families, and on our economy as a whole. the aftermath of this nationwide emergency could leave tens of millions of families without work or steady income. i've been working closely with my colleagues here in congress, with the rest of the delegation from new hampshire, with our governor to try and think about what we should come up with, what kind of package would help those people who are hurting. and during the past couple of weeks i've had many phone calls with mayors, with public health officials, with small business owners and social service agencies, all of those people who are on the front lines of
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this crisis. i've heard from nonprofit organizations who provide vital services to those with disabilities to our seniors, to veterans, and those in recovery from substance use disorders, because even as we're grappling with the impact of this coronavirus, new hampshire is still sadly in the midst of a persistent substance misuse epidemic. thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates, providers, policymakers, and so many in our state, we've made strides toward curbing the substance misuse crisis. we're ensuring that resources are there so that people can get the care they need, because even though we're facing a pandemic, substance misuse doesn't take a day off. but organizations that provide essential treatment and counseling for granite staters are also dealing with decreased capacity and revenue shortfalls that threaten their ability to p
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continue to be a resource for their communities over the long term. our critical frontline health care providers as well as first responders, police, firefighters, and e.m.t's who are on the front lines of responding to and treating coronavirus cases are lacking medical resources and personal protective equipment that is so necessary to do their jobs at this critical time. and we're hearing from hospitals who are facing an uncertain financial future due to the crisis. all of these troubling situations point to the need for immediate relief so that organizations and agencies that granite staters rely on can continue to be there. i agree with my colleagues that have come to the floor over the last two days to say that congress must act. we must act to provide relief so that so many americans who are suffering can get the help that
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they desperately need. in the past two weeks congress has taken several steps to provide immediate help to those families who are affected by the coronavirus. these include emergency paid sick leave to many workers who get infected with the virus, who have had to self-quarantine or who need to take care of a family member. we've provided emergency measures to ensure that every american, including those without insurance, are able to have their coronavirus testing costs fully covered. and we've expanded unemployment insurance for those who are laid off as a result of the virus. but we can and we must do more. congress must work to address the economic devastation that so many are facing because of this virus. just yesterday we heard from a senior federal reserve official who warned that the u.s. unemployment rate could
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skyrocket because of this pandemic, and we're seeing that, i know all of us are seeing that in our states. at home in new hampshire, we've had thousands apply for unemployment insurance because they have been laid off in the last few weeks. the message from the front lines is we need help, and we need it fast. and congress must provide that help, help for our hospitals and health care providers and first responders as they prepare for a surge in demand for treatment as this virus spreads. we want to make sure that they have the medical equipment, the supplies they need to keep them safe while they're treating so many people who are ill. we need financial relief and paid leave to workers, especially to hourly workers and those who have been laid off because of the impact of this virus. and we need support for small sl businesses. small businesses are the lifeblood of new hampshire's
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economy. we've got to make sure they stay afloat, that they pay their workers while they're closed or have reduced demand. and we need to froi child care and elder care for health care workers, especially those who are being asked to work extra shifts. we need assistance so that americans can afford their health care treatment. that's what i'm fighting for. and we're making significant progress. we've seen movement in the last couple of days. i want to call out my colleagues, senators rubio and cardin, chair and ranking member of the small business committee, and senator collins. the four of us have worked together on small business provisions that are in this bill. work continued through the weekend and late into the night last night to reach agreement on these provisions, and we're almost there. i'm confident that in the end we'll be able to deliver a package of well-thought-out
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provisions that will provide over 350 billion in assistance for small businesses and nonprofit organizations in new hampshire and throughout the country. this bipartisan package will provide immediate cash flow assistance so that small businesses can continue to pay their employees, make the rent, pay their mortgage, and pay their utility bills. the bill will also provide support to small business development centers, to women's business centers, to veterans' business outreach centers. all those resource agencies that can help small businesses as they're trying to figure out how to navigate this crisis and how to get the help they need. we're also providing six months of relief for existing s.b.a. borrowers. and of course, to make this work, we need all those lending institutions, our banks and our financial institutions. they're already on the front lines of trying to help small businesses, and they are going
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to be critical to making this package work. but there is much more to be done. we still need to provide funding for state and local governments, because as we speak, tax revenues are plummeting. the cost of responding to this crisis are skyrocketing, and i've heard from so many municipal officials who are on the front lines, who are spending money, who are not sure how they're going to replace those dollars as they respond to this crisis. we need additional funding for hospitals because they're going to see a terrifying surge in patients in the coming days and weeks. they're going to have to make very difficult decisions about the kind of care they're able to provide. and we need to make sure they have the resources they need. we need to make sure that big corporations continue to support their workers through this crisis. and we need legislation to ensure that new hampshire's nonprofits and social service organizations like those in the
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rest of the country who are in dire financial straits can continue to receive assistance because their services are needed now more than ever. and once we get through the worst of this crisis, we're going to need those organizations to be able to continue to serve people in our communities. i think i and most of my colleagues here are working in a bipartisan way and with this administration to find common ground and to address the needs of the nation. i've been disappointmented at some of the -- i've been disappointed at some of the partisan attacks on the floor of the senate, because i think everybody's goal is the same. it is to respond to the needs of this nation, to make it clear to people who are our constituents and people across this country that we are here to try and address the suffering that they're experiencing. madam president, our country is hurting right now.
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people are looking to this body for leadership. that's why it's so important that we get this bill right. this is one of those times in history when congress must set aside any political differences, where we must deliver a bill that meets the challenges we face, because at the end of the day, we are all in this together. one of the encouraging things that i have felt, as i've watched the news and heard from people across the country, are those people who are stepping up now at this time of difficulty. just this morning i heard about one of of our small businesses in northern new hampshire who knew that people were buying out of toilet paper, that supermarkets and any stores that carried toilet paper were sold out. so they called down the road to
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gorm paper, which is one of our paper mills that's still operating that provides tissue for people across the country. they called them to see if they had any toilet tissue they could provide for businesses in the community. we have a federal prison in that community of berlin. they found out, so they called them to provide toilet tissue for the prison. seems like a small thing, but it's the kind of thing that has helped people and made it possible for people to continue to be able to see past the worst of this crisis, to see beyond, and to see how we can all work together to cooperate to get through this. let's show the american people that their elected leaders can address the needs of this country. let's get this bill done. we have no time to waste.
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with that, madam president, i yield the floor, and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president --
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you. the presiding officer: we're in a quorum call. mr. leahy: i ask unanimous consent that the call of the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: mr. president, today the american people are making sacrifices to keep themselves, their communities, families safe. state and local government workers, truckers, bank tellers, countless others are doing important and necessary work on the front lines of this crisis. both as a senator from vermont but also as a member of this chamber for more than 40 years, i want to send my profound thanks to the millions of people around the country who are trying to help us and are
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sacrificing. i spoke earlier this afternoon with the governor of vermont, governor phil scott. he's about to take very significant steps further in vermont, which will cause us economic problems in the short run but protect the safety and the health of all vermonters. the governor is a republican, i'm a democrat. i applaud and support what he has done. it is time for all of us to stand together. but right now we're also close to expressing our understanding of the sacrifices of the american people and doing it in more than words. i believe we're very close to reaching a bipartisan agreement that's going to provide direct
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and immediate relief to working people and families in our country. it is time for reality to trump rhetoric. we've had too much talk on what we might do, could do, should do, shouldn't do. it's time to go to reality. we've had far too much rhetoric. as vice chairman of the senate appropriations committee, i want to provide senators with an update on the status of the negotiations in the appropriations committee between myself and chairman shelby. and i might note on this that our staffs, both the democratic staff and the republican staff, have worked so hard many, many times, until midnight, 1:00 a.m. in the morning, starting again very early in the morning. i know, because i've been on the phone with them much of that
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time. and even though my offices here and in vermont are working outside the buildings, they're working by telecommunications, they are working. and because of their hard work and the fact that senators in both parties are talking to each other -- and, again, talking about reality versus rhetoric, there's much we've already agreed upon. and i'm very confident that we can reach a deal that will help millions of americans in need -- hospitals, community health centers, the health care institutions we will rely on in the coming weeks and months need to be ready for a potential surge of patients. in our agreement, we're securing hundreds of billions of dollars in direct assistance for these vital institutions. now, across the country we're hearing reports of medical care providers and first responders
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reusing masks, or first responders resorting to covering their faces with bandannas for protection. in this, the wealthiest nation on earth? there's no excuse for that. the presiding officer is a physician. he knows the needs of people d. -- he knows the needs that people have to take to protect themselves when they're in hospitals. my wife, a medical surgical nurse, she knows what is needs. the we know -- we know what we're seeing is unacceptable. they're risking themselves to the coronavirus because they do not have the tools they need to do the job. that only puts further strain on our health care system, to say nothing about the personal danger to those men and women. so we fought hard in this bill to include resources to make
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sure the health care and police officers, national guard members, scientists, and many more have access to the personal protective equipment they need. you know, in times of crisis, it is critical that we -- that we support the most vulnerable among us, and that's why i've fought to include significant new resources for programs that provide food to those in need, including child nutrition programs, snap, and senior meals. because i think every one of us should know that it is very sad to have to say, as this public health crisis progresses, the demand for nutrition programs is only going to grow in the coming months. i also fought to secure resources for the homeless.
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without a clean, safe place to go, they are at much higher risk of contracting the coronavirus mopping themselves but also spreading it in their communities. vermont is a small and special state. there was when my ancestors came there in the 1800's -- that's where marcelle and i were born. it is a place that is very special to us. while i represent a state where much of it is rural, every member in this chamber represents a rural community, every one of us. and we will ensure that they are not left behind because in our bill we will support rural
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business, who have help for rural hospitals, who, unfortunately, are not going to be spared the impact of this pandemic. we have resources to support broadband access. we take it for granted here in the senate, but it's going to be critically important for keeping people connected as we encourage them to disconnect and stay apart. we're securing funds to support child care. we can't ask communities, close down their schools, and still rely upon their first responders and medical providers and those on the front lines when their children do not have a safe place to go. we're providing direct appropriations to support a science-first approach to this pandemic by providing funding to
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back research in therapeutics, vaccines, and treatments. and it's in the our communities, state and local governments who are on the for-profit lines of this crisis -- who are on the front lines of this crisis. we have to support their efforts. they're going to do it. they're going to fight for us anyway, but they need our help and our support. so we will be including billions of dollars to support the services these communities are providing during this crisis. i say again, it is time for reality to trump rhetoric. and i've listened to the rhetoric on this floor the past few days, some accusing democrats of delaying critical assistance to america. well, of course those ridiculous. we all know it is. democrats have spent the last 48 hours fighting for funding and legislation that's going to help people, not just corporations.
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we've been fighting for more money for health care, more money for children, more money for hospitals, more money for our schools, and in the last few days we have secured in order funding for all of these -- we have secured more funding for all of these things. isn't this the american way? doesn't this transcend party politics? isn't is this what we should be doing, every one of us in this body, for america? so i feel confident we'll soon reach a deal. and i'm well aware of the fact that the appropriations committee's component is only one part of this massive package. but the pandemic we face demands this response. when i came to the united states senate, i thought of this place as being and having a history of being the conscience of the nation. well, let's prove the history true again during this crisis, whether we do it today or tomorrow. we'll get this done.
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we'll get it done soon. it will -- it will be our conscience that comes through. but not just a conscience of 100 members, a conscience of the nation, a great nation. and we're now called upon to support -- that we're now called upon to support. so let's deal with reality. it's time. we can do it. every one of us should vote to do that. mr. president, i do not see others seeking the floor, but i will suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. a senator: i would like to peek to the coronavirus and more importantly to the -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. a senator: i apologize. may the quorum be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection.
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mr. cassidy: i would like to speak to the coronavirus, more specifically to the response to the coronavirus, or should i say you the absence to a response. more of the more exciting things in a show is there is a car wreck, somebody faints, something like that, and every resource is brought. when it occur, there is someone who might run the show, the captain of the show. and says, you must do this you must do that. at that point, nicety does not matter. orders are given, you respond, and i things are done. that's because there is not a moment to be lost. and i think i bring that sense of urgency to the situation. our presiding officer is in the military, a combat pilot. she knows quite well, sometimes minutes matter. sometimes minutes matter.
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i would argue that sometime is now. now, madam president, i've been staying away from grocery stores, et cetera, and eating through my frozen food, stuff in the fridge. but somebody told me they went to the grocery store and businessessed that had been in business -- and businesses that had been in business last week are now boarded up. on calls with small businesses back in louisiana, they are so worried about cash flow trying to keep people on, some have already laid people off, wondering what they can do. the uncertainty is destroying their livelihood and that the live layhood of a small businesswoman is destroyed, so is the livelihood of everyone whom she employs. there is a sense of urgency that everyone in the nation should feel but is not being acted upon now. now, let's describe the situation. because what i actually think -- because i've tried to understand why that urgency is not here.
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it is not a general lack of urgency. it is a specific lack of urgency of the speaker of the house and the minority leader in the senate. the minority leader being the senior senator from new york. it is a specific lack of urgency in which they attempt to leverage the misery of the american people so that they can achieve their political goal. and i thought deeply about that political goal. in fact, i've noticed whenever something is said by the minority leader, the senior senator from new york, i have to think, oh, it's opposite day, like my children will same there's actually something opposite being said. let me just figure out what that opposite thing s so let's go through where we are and then we'll come through the opposite-day aspect of that you are conversations. first, people are hurting. but not just people being laid off. schools have been discharged. my wife cofounded a school for
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children with dyslexia, public charter school, children of all backgrounds come and have their dyslexia addressed. it is critical that those children be in school. there is a science-based way for those kids to learn how to read, and if they have to be dismissed because of fear about spreading disease, then those children are not being he is supposed to that science-based curriculum and those children are, therefore, losing the opportunity to both learn and to have their issue of dyslexia addressed. that's just one school. there are very many more. so to address that, last week the senate majority leader put together a proposal where he would have senators from the republican party draft some initial concepts, clearly not written in stone, clearly open to negotiation, and then meet with democratic counterparts to
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come up with a bipartisan solution that would reflect the perspectives of all 100 senators, knowing that each senator represents a different constituency elected by people with a different viewpoint, but the amalgamation of those viewpoints of constituents would come up with a wise public policy that would help to address both the medical crisis and the economic crisis. it was bipartisan. and i was struck. one of our democratic colleagues was on a show, was asked about the process, and he said it actually worked well. i met with the small business people. i met with this senator from the democratic side and this senator from the republican side, and we had a process that worked. it worked very well on the member level. it is in the leadership that it broke down. ah ... that's interesting. in the leadership the bipartisan process was the product that both sides had agreed upon broke
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down. now, madam president, let's contrast this bipartisan process which led to a series of policies with the opposite-day rhetoric that has been used by the senate minority leader. the bipartisan product came up with an economic stabilization fund in which dollars would be transferred to the treasury department, which would then be transferred to the federal reserve, to set up guaranteed loans so that an industry -- not a specific business, an industry -- think tourist industry, think health care, somebody particularly affected by the coronavirus epidemic, as a class
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would be able to come and get guaranteed loans to keep their people employed, to keep their business going, shows that when we get through this -- so that when we get through this rough patch, their business can start as before. now, the opposite-day rhetoric of the senate minority leader is that this is a bailout for big corporations. and it was a sweetheart deal put together by republicans. oh, opposite day. it was actually a bipartisan deal that goes through the federal reserve in a way that is sector-specific but not business-specific with the goal of keeping people employed. but the opposite-day rhetoric is that it's a bailout. these are loans, specifically loans that have to be paid back. by lurks the federal -- by law, the federal reserve cannot take a loss. madam president, that is no the a bailout. that is a loan to keep people employed, and it's wise public policy brought together on a bipartisan base -- bipartisan,
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democrats and republicans -- to come up with a solution reflecting all viewpoints across the country. so despite the opposite-day rhetoric, as somebody who wishes to disparage, who wishes to diminish, who wishes to depreciate a process of the senate that that is supposed to work, instead it was denigrated. i keep asking myself, why? we'll koppel to that in a little bit -- we'll come to that in a little bit. what else about the opposite-day process? that not enough is spent on health care? madam president, i am a doctor. i went through these provisions for health care. we are spending literally, literally tens of billions of dollars on health care. trying to find where to use it best. the opposite-day rhetoric that we're not. didn't quite figure that one out. that we're not spending on the average american. madam president, opposite-day
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rhetoric, $1, 200 to an individual, $2,400 to a couple. that just goes out the door. those folks get it. that is a commitment. also committed to keeping small businesses afloat with an expedited process by which that small business can obtain cash -- a loan -- and that loan, the portion of which is used to keep people employed, is forgiven -- forgiven, madam president. so if i borrow -- if i was a restaurant owner and i borrowed $100,000 and i used $75,000 of it to keep my employees employed, that $75,000 is forgiven and i only have to pay back $20,000. madam president, that is a bipartisan policy put together specifically to keep americans employed with their benefits. by the way, if you are a waitress for a waiter, your tips
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were included in your salary. and so even though he might get a smaller amount, you make it up by tips, we took that into consideration with this legislation, bipartisan legislation that addressed that need. opposite-day, the senate minority leader's rhetoric, was that we weren't taking care of people. why would he not tell the truth? why would he specifically attempt to fool the american people about what was actually being done? i had to think about that, madam president. why would he attempt to corrupt the entire process to tell the american people something which is not true? i'm not sure about that, madam president. not sure about that. so, we got the deal put up by the speaker of the house in which she said, in exchanges for the airlines be able to continue to employ flight attendants and ground crew and administrators, they would have to do an
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emission profile for every airplane. hmm ... i'm struggling to stay afloat. i have no passengers. my cash flow is immediately interrupted. but, by the way, let me go out and get an emissions pro-fuel for my airplane -- profile for my airplane or else otherwise i don't get to stay in business. that is so absurd that i kept thinking, that cannot be the answer. that is so stupid! madam president, how can you label it anything else in the circumstance, when people are in the process of boarding up their businesses, that that is the nonsense you would propose? so i kept thinking, why would they want that, madam president? when the american people are hurting and just like in a military emergency and just like in a medical emergency, it demands rapid action? i was presiding, madam president, just before you.
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and i was about to come on, i heard on the tv somebody speaking, the senior senator from illinois. and i got a clue. he was not speaking of the senate working where republicans and democrats come together and respecting a hundred different constituencies, a hundred different viewpoints on a bipartisan basis, establishing policy that works for all, taking into account that la is different than -- louisiana is different than arizona and arizona is different than maine and maine is different than washington state. we're all americans but we have different industries. so part of this bipartisan process involving as many senators as possible was th to totally reflect that which was going o. but i finally had my clue as to why the senate majority leader wants this process to break down, not to be
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representative as a whole but rather that merely that he and the speaker of the house can negotiate. the democratic whip from illinois spoke of the four corners process. now, those who are watching may not know what the four corners are. the four corners are when nothing else can work, you get the senate majority leader, the senate minority leader, the speaker of the house, and the minority leader in the house meeting with the white house and the four of them decide on everything. there's no transparency. they'll come out with a 2,000-page bill with all kinds of sweetheart deals tucked into it, totally leaving out 98 other senators but not leaving out those stakeholders. madam president, if you're a stakeholder and you have ?b on your speed dial as one of those four corners, you can get what
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you want. on this opposite day type reality when someone speaks of bailouts, i'm thinking huh, somebody wants a particular industry bailed out. doesn't want the scrutiny of a hundred senators looking at it with enough time to consider. no, they want to release the bill tonight to vote on tomorrow morning. now the emergency kicks in. oh, it's something we can think about. until that deal is baked and then we have no time to consider and then we must vote. that's how the four-corners process works. suddenly it dawned on me. remember the process, madam president, that i spoke of in which senators from both parties came together on a bipartisan basis to come up with something that would provide a little bit of support for the -- no, a lot of support for the economy? let's talk about the airlines.
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in the deal that come apart where all the senators are represented one way or another, the deal was -- that came apart -- came together was that the airlines would get a loan but would not get free money. that's what republicans frankly wanted. that's what the white house wanted. that was agreed to in the bipartisan arrangement before it got blown up by the speaker of the house and the senate majority leader. madam president, you know what i'm going to be curious to see? i'm going to be curious to see, madam president, do the airlines get free money? not just a loan to bridge over the rough spot to keep people employed, the pilot, the ground crew, et cetera, but free money. and then i'll understand opposite day. i will understand that the reason that people have been talking about corporate bailouts is because they have particular industries in which they wish to bail out. and those who speak of no transparency, again opposite day, now are into the four-corner situation where no one knows what is being put into
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that package because 98 senators have been excluded and by the way, let me just compliment my senate majority leader. he is the one who proposed the transparent process of a bipartisan set of senators putting this together. so let's just drop blame where blame should be. as my democratic colleague said on tv, it was going pretty well until it came to leadership. well, madam president, we will see that bill. we'll vote on it not having time to read it because it's been crafted in a small room with people who did not include senators of both parties from different places, because they had something they wish to put in there. and, madam president, we'll find out later what those stakeholders were able to get. my stakeholders ever the american people. my stakeholders, madam president, of the ones who are boarding up their buildings right now because a bill we could have voted on sunday is still not decided upon because somebody has a special deal in
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which they wish to place. madam president, the way the senate works is not a four-corners arrangement where all the powers in the group of one or two or three or four in which deals are released the night before and released the next day and no one has a chance to read but some people are taken care of, rather it is to be where the senate majority leader put up where there's bipartisan agreement with an opportunity to study, to understand, to reflect upon the american people are represented, special interests are kept in their place. madam president, that is the way it should be. unfortunately, that is not where we are now. madam president, i wish it were not opposite day but we shall find. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mrs. loeffler: madam president, last week the u.s. department of homeland security recognized agriculture for its critical role in the united states covid-19 response. today in recognition of national agriculture day, i want to highlight the work that millions of americans do each day to make
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the agriculture industry in america the greatest in the world. this industry is incredibly expansive and at its most basic level, it is defined by the food, feed, fiber, and fuel it generates. but it's so much more. it fuels the global economy and is driven by millions of dedicated hardworking people who are working every day to deliver these products. these folks are our nation's farmers, ranchers, foresters and producers. this includes those who manufacture and sell equipment, who drive trucks and barges to move product, who provide seed and fertilizer, and who store, process, and market these products. it spans small and large businesses, from family farms to community banks, to universities, to science, veterinarians, and livestock operations. in my home state of georgia, agriculture is our number one industry. it accounts for more than one in
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seven jobs and we have 42,000 farms in georgia. i grew up working in the soybean fields and the feed lot of my family's farm. i know firsthand how hard those in agriculture work to provide poultry, peanuts, pecans, cotton, cattle, and blueberries. the risk they take each day and the exposure to global markets and changing regulations, technology, consumer pressures, economic pressures, our ag industry rises to all these challenges. this is especially true right now as our country faces the coronavirus outbreak. we have all seen how vital each role in our supply chain is from the ground to the grocery store and from the cotton gin to the global export market that the savannah harbor ships to around the world. americans are used to a readily available supply of food, but in recent weeks we have seen empty
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aisles in grocery stores but we know that this is not the new normal. these shelves are quickly restocked because of the tireless work that is done each day by our farmers, food processors, truck drivers, and grocery store personnel. without them empty shelves and food shortages would be the norm. today americans are heeding the call to protect themselves from the coronavirus. at the same time ag business is continually managing their production, processing, and manufacturing. it's not just planting and harvest. while some businesses aring forced to -- being forced to take measures to slow their operations, sadly such as restaurants, others such as grocery stores are seeing unprecedented demand. everyone is dealing with uncertainty and volatility. in georgia fruit and vegetables are being planted as i speak. cotton and peanuts will be planted very soon. some products like georgia's
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vidalia onions will be harvested next month. farmers will still be in their fields in the months to come working tirelessly to ensure that americans have access to the food and the products that they need. as a member of the senate committee on agriculture, nutrition, and forestry, i am strongly committed to supporting america's leading role in agriculture. and i want to thank president trump for his strong support of american agriculture and for recognizing the contributions of the american farm bureau, the f.a.a., and 4-h and so many others. last week my colleague from georgia, senator david perdue and i, urged the administration to support our farmers by enabling flexibility for the labor that they rely on, for their harvest and their planting. as the third coronavirus relief bill comes to the floor, we work to support rural america by expanding telehealth as well as
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funding rural health care programs that are so needed in our rural communities. this comes in the form of economic aid for agri business and formers -- farmers whether from small business loans and to support things like telecommunications and broadband. agriculture is perhaps the world's most important industry and it's important to mark their contributions every year. but on this year's national agriculture day, i call on my colleagues to reflect on where our country would be today without the contribution of the american agriculture industry, without the contribution of georgia's farmers. especially as we face this unprecedented challenge, we couldn't do it without those who feed and clothe the world. i yield the floor.
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